Sunday, November 16, 2014

2009: Lost Memories (2002)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I came across this movie while looking for time-travel movies. While it does have time travel, to call it a time-travel movie may be a bit misleading. The actual time travel doesn’t come in until the end of the movie.

It’s actually more of an alternate history movie. The story starts with a rundown of that alternate history. Instead of Korea gaining independence from Japan, it remains part of Japan for an additional hundred years.

The focal point is the assassination of Hirobumi Ito in 1909. From what I can tell, Korea was annexed shortly after his death, but regained independence in 1945. In the movie, someone had found a time machine that allowed them to go back and save Ito, thus keeping Korea under Japanese rule permanently. The movie begins with a rundown of all of the other things that occurred in the changed history. For instance, Japan allied with the U.S., who dropped a bomb on Berlin instead of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The movie takes place in 2009, hence the first part of the title. Two agents with the Japanese Bureau of Investigation (one Korean and the other Japanese) are investigating a break-in at a museum. A group seeking Korean independence staged the break-in. It isn’t until later that Sakamoto (the Korean agent) realizes what they’re after. It takes him a little longer to realize why.

I really liked this movie, even though it wasn’t exactly what I expected. The dynamic between the two officers was interesting. They go from being best friends to bitter enemies. It was a little difficult for me to understand this. Maybe I was missing something, but they had been friends for many years. By the end of the movie, they were almost ready to kill each other.

Parts of the movie seemed to have a little too much violence. It’s not so much that I don’t like violence. The problem was that some of the action scenes didn’t really seem to fit in. They were also filmed strangely and may seem a little odd to some viewers.

I found that not knowing the history took a little away from the movie. Viewers (like me) that don’t know the minutiae of Asian history may be a little lost, but it doesn’t really make the movie impossible to watch. You’ll just find yourself asking a lot of questions, like who Ito was.

Still, I find myself giving the movie five stars. I really did like it. I don’t know that everyone would like it, but I have found myself recommending it to people. If you come across this movie in the video store, definitely rent it. 

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